No bad faith liability for aggressive settlement tactics

The insured in Mid-Continent Casualty v. Eland Energy recovered a multi-million dollar verdict against its insurer, alleging that the insurer’s efforts to unilaterally settle a claim for environmental damage after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita undermined the defense of an ongoing class action about similar claims.  No. 11-10649 (Feb. 22, 2013).   The district court granted JNOV and the Fifth Circuit affirmed.  Recognizing that “[the insured] is understandably upset,” the court rejected a common-law duty of good faith under Texas law in the handling of third-party insurance claims, dismissing as dicta or distinguishing several cases cited by the insured.   Potential claims under Louisiana law failed for  choice-of-law reasons since the claim was handled in Texas. Claims based on the Texas Insurance Code failed to establish a causal link between the alleged misconduct and the ultimate settlement terms of the class action.

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